Italy catches Mafia boss Messina Denaro after 30 years on the run. Famous criminals get caught while attending their doctor. But being a crime person he lived a rather lavish life in disguise as well.
Italy’s most wanted mobster was heading to a cafe outside a private Sicilian clinic when a policeman approached him and asked him his name. He did not lie. He merely looked up and said: “You know who I am. I am Matteo Messina Denaro.” Until that moment, the armed forces could not be sure the man really was the Mafia “boss of all bosses”, who they had been hunting for three decades.
He checked in for an appointment at the clinic under the name of Andrea Bonafede. But after years of painstaking research, and only a computerized image to go on. Italy’s Carabinieri military police were confident enough that he was the man they were looking for.
During his time at the top of the Cosa Nostra organized crime syndicate. Messina Denaro oversaw racketeering, illegal waste dumping, money laundering, and drug trafficking. He was convicted in absentia in 2002 of a string of murders.
Messina Denaro is a fan of Rolex watches, designer clothes, comic books, and video games. He has a reputation as a playboy. He was once featured on an Italian magazine cover in dark glasses, looking like a rock star. But his list of victims is long and the crimes he is accused of are horrific.
Messina Denaro was one of the mob’s most brutal bosses. Whose convictions included a life sentence given in absentia in 2020 for the 1992 murder of anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone.
He had been on the run since 1993. While commentators debate how powerful he was in recent years, mafia expert Anna Sergi said his importance was as “the last one, the most resilient one, the ‘purest’ Sicilian mafioso remaining”.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni hailed the “great victory” against the “most significant” mafia boss, and immediately headed to Palermo to congratulate officials in person. “It is a major blow for organized crime,” she told reporters in the Sicilian capital. “We haven’t won the war, we haven’t beaten the mafia, but this battle was a key battle to win.”